Website Check List: How usable is your Website?
By Dan Byrnes
How does your website seem so far in terms of the following considerations.?
Please note: This addenda to the Checklister was added to this project due to: personal experience (see www.danbyrnes.com.au/.);
Long-term e-mail discussions on website construction and usability with a programmer friend, Brian Robson, webmaster of Bondi Beach Home Page at: www.bondivillage.com/;
But mostly due to suddenly noting details from a British government website ("Checklist, Specifying your website"), at: cabinetoffice.gov.uk/e-government/.
The UK Cabinet Office checklist is for Procurement and choosing an ISP/hosting checklist, "an evaluation checklist and universal usability checklist".
A mix of outlook on checklisting for the development of webstyle for both/either of government and private enterprise websites is rare to find, which is why I have recompiled this list. consideration of which, we find, only adds to the severity of critiquing a website nearing completion.
We also find that because a website is a multi-linear production, questions about its usability can curve in on themselves in a multi-category manner, which can seem confusing.
- What is the timescale of the development process? Will the website
development be stepped in order to evaluate progress and make alternations?
- Are all parties clear as to the requirements and expectations of the project?
- Has your office considered where the website sits within your department's electronic records management policy/system?
- Could the website benefit from further applications of the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
- Does the website generally follow the usability guidelines of Jakob
Nielsen, Vincent Flanders and Joel Spolsky.
Does the website tend to keep its best design elements invisible to the user?
- Will the website capture and keep a user's attention within three
seconds? If so, how?
- Can the website begin to explain its purpose(s) with only one-and-half screens on its main/index page? Can user(s) easily identify the reason(s) the website is made available by its creators?
- Establish whether the website might offend the family market. If it need not offend this market for any reasons, enhance any extra opportunities arising to widen its user-appeal.
- Have other or extra methods of text or other information delivery been considered, eg., PDF? Other varieties of downloadables?
- Is it likely that the website will be multi-hyperlinked by other websites such that Google will rank and notice this website's popularity.
- Are the website's keywords and contents organized so they be easily
noticed and indexed by search engines?
- Will the navigation quickly and clearly help the user benefit from the website without loss of time or experience of confusion?
- Does the website impose too many choices on the user on any single page, or regarding any sets of navigation options? (No more than seven choices appearing at one time or navigation point is recommended here).
- Will the website be easy to update./maintain / revise? If not, why not?
- Does the website breach any of the usual conventions of use of the
English language? If so, can this be justified for any purposes?
Has the entire website been printed-out to test its printer-friendliness, and then fully proofread?
- Has the website been tested for its performances on a variety of
monitors/screen sizes, computers (including MACs), browsers and printers, and
all this, also from the point of view of the sight or otherwise-disabled
Have all the graphics been given ALT tags?
- Have the uses of HTML, XML, DHTML, XHTML and CSS all been validated by W3C or other suitable methods.
- How are hits, page visits to the website, and/or page reads, to be counted? By which recommended system or methodology? How often? By whom? Who will be responsible for keeping a website history?
Questions, various and general:
- Re Disability Questions: Do certain sections of the target user group(s) have special needs due to blindness, deafness or motor disability?
- Will all the pages incorporate the appropriate DTD? (Document Type Declaration for XML files). Will all new documents include metadata?
- If a test-only or easy-access version of the website to be used, should this be documented?
- Which standard file extension is used through the website, either html or htm?
- Has the organisation's corporate design style/log been used, and does at translate well to the website?
- What images will be used/not used on the site. Who will write and supply ALT tags information for the graphics?
- What are the websafe colours to be used on the website? (See above re use of any corporate logo.)
- What are the Red, Green, Blue, Pantone and hexadecimal values for these colours to be used on the website? If colours chosen so far are not websafe, can they be made websafe?
- Will the website's font and colour styles be formatted using an external CSS? (Cascading Style Sheet.) Related, will the website be partly or fully organized through use of a set of templates?
- What typefaces will be used? If the organisation's usually-used typeface is not a standard web font, what is the closest available font?
- Are frames to be used for any part of the website, and if so, what effect will this have on site users who cannot utilize frames on their monitor?
- Does the organisation have copyright ownership of any images used? If not, how will the web designers find suitable images, and how much will any copyright-free images cost?
- Are any images or other commercial credits required to be noticed, including within the mark-up of particular sections of the website?
- Who ensures the consistency and quality of the content, and if it is correct? Is any fact-checking required? Who edits/proofreads the content for grammar, style and consistency of message-and-style?
- Re content: Has a navigational model been constructed and is it flexible? Is the navigational model expendable and future-proof?
- Once the website is finished and uploaded, can the webmaster alter, delete and/or add new information with ease?
Further technical/specific questions:
- Does training on editing, re-editing and use of the website need to be provided?
- Is it valid and appropriate on the website to display code-validity graphics such as those provided by W3C once a website actually does validate?
- Re use of Scripts: Are any scripts used on any pages of the website? If so, what are the reasons for using such scripts? Are the Scripts used for essential reasons or mainly for presentational reasons? Will the Scripts used work on all browser applications?
- If the website pages fail to display well on specific browsers, can the pages still be used without loss of content, functionality or usability?
- Is there any need to survey the views on the website of groups of users? If so, who will moderate such testing sessions?
- Are any specific dynamic applications used, and if so, are these accessible via browsers and available URLs?
- Are any plug-ins required for use of the website (Flash, audio streaming, video-streaming, video players, etc?)
- If a plug-in is required, can the same information be presented in standard HTML format? (Eg, Contents of a PDF also available as a HTML version.)
- Is there any need for a mailing list server?